There’s a great example of the power of persistence in the way Chinese bamboo grows.

When farmers plant the seeds and tend to the soil day after day and year after year, they see no visible results. Four years can go by before they see any growth. But in the fifth year, a bud pops through the soil and it’s said this particular type of bamboo can grow ninety feet in five weeks. This begs the question: Is the bamboo comparable to an overnight success doing all that growing in just five weeks, or does it take five years for the bamboo to reach this height?

Of course, the bamboo is growing the whole time even though it’s not apparent to anyone other than the wise farmer. Over the first four long years, the bamboo is busy developing a solid root system necessary to support its height and weight over a lifetime. But in the fifth year, all the upfront work becomes apparent as the bamboo practically grows before your eyes. Clearly, this story illustrates the power of persistence. The farmer’s consistent effort is vital for the bamboo to grow ninety feet and achieve this great outcome.

As Angela Duckworth shares in Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance, our natural talent gives us an incremental advantage in achieving success. But talent on its own is not enough. We all know people who don’t live up to their potential. Rather, our effort counts so much more than talent when it comes to achieving a goal. And like the bamboo farmer above, sometimes our efforts need to persist for a prolonged duration before we see any payoff.

Expending sustained effort is much easier when we are passionate about what we do. When we ground our work in a compelling sense of purpose and meaning, we are better prepared to bring the passion, the energy and the persistence to bring about the great results we are capable of achieving.

How can you find meaning in your work?